A collection of Facebook status updates narrating my daily life in Seoul, working as a high school EFL teacher

Part 1 [2010]

October 15
Explaining complicated words and phrases with other complicated words and phrases.

November 26
Today, one of my students asked if I had a cold. I said yes. She said she liked the way my voice sounded. I said thanks.

December 1
Spent a fair amount of time this morning explaining the difference between ‘That’s bomb,’ and ‘That bombed,’ to my co-teacher. Such intellectual, American expressions to clarify.

December 2
My favorite ‘descriptions’ given by a group of students during today’s speaking game: 1. Hotel=’Motel’s friend!’ 2. Train=’Subway’s friend!’ Garbage=’Trash’s friend!’ Beautiful=’Pretty’s friend!’

December 5
Mentally preparing for my professional development day tomorrow: early morning, 2 hours of desk warming, 2 hour bus ride (my school rented 2 buses to hold all 100+ teachers), lunch, jump rope contest, hula hoop contest, dodgeball tournament, dinner, 2 hour bus ride home.

December 31
One of my students just came to (optional winter camp) class with a neck brace on. Apparently, she fell on the ice yesterday.

Part 2 [2011]

March 9
I had students ask a partner 9 interview questions, one of which was, “What is your favorite possession?” One student confused ‘possession’ with ‘position.’ Luckily, his answer was only ‘midfielder.’

March 14
Having students give their partners an occupation for this week’s lesson. This is what I got today: ‘My partner should be a teacher because he is very clever and has no skills. He is also good at English.’ AND, ‘My partner should be a politician because he is very smart and has good hairstyle skills. He is also very good at sleeping.’

March 17
boys drew penises all over the group activity sheet today. my co-teach looked like she was about to cry. i took the paper, yelled at them, told her it was ok. my classroom smells like sangria. strange, everything.

March 18
A boy fell asleep during my last class. My co-teacher said something in Korean to the girl sitting next to him and then turned to me and said, ‘I told her to pull 3 hairs out of his head.’
I said, ‘Oh. Good idea.’

March 22
I just translated a message I got on the school’s IM, thinking it was about a change in today’s schedule. This is what Google Translate gave me: ‘But I guess you know everyone, computer repair knight coming day. If you do not hesitate to use your computer, please contact the inconvenience. (*Insert a bunch of numbers*) Win a teacher after information is received.’

March 25
I’m responsible for choosing a school representative to participate in the ‘Good Neighbor English Camp.’ It makes me feel bad. This is part of one girl’s essay: ‘I’m interest on camp than I come to request. The reason of why I have to go, my dream is because a diplomat. and i’d like to read the original book in English. it is a few days, I want to representing our school, living in foreign assumption experiences about the countries culture and their lifestyle. in future, I want to know my career is suitable to me. please, give to me wings.’

March 29
a kid in my class is about to crap his pants and my co-teacher has decided not to let him leave… oh wait, I think it just got serious… he is being escorted to the bathroom.

March 30
I had my advanced students write me a story using as many health idioms as they could from a list I gave them. I’m slightly concerned –
1. One day, my grandpa said ‘I am under the weather.’ So, I looked at him. His body was spare tire but his legs were bag of bones. I told him ‘Grandpa, if we take a hot bath together, you will be right as rain.’ But grandpa didn’t want to, so I took a bath alone.
2. I went to school and I met my girlfriend. Her name is Linda who has spare tire, but I love her.

April 5
I just did such an awful, awful job teaching my 2nd period lesson that I was actually judging the students who were paying attention.

April 25
Me: ‘What are your hobbies?’
Boy: ‘Snuggling a rabbit.’

April 26
Instead of saying ‘Have a good lunch,’ a student just told me to ‘Have a good eating out.’

May 13
I played Scattergories with my classes today. Letter L was best –
Things that are scary — ladies
Things in school — losers
Countries — Labia (AKA Libya)

June 2
hey tara, i know you’re off work in 20 minutes, but could you read these 6 student newspaper articles by tomorrow? hey tara, i know you already read all 70 student essays for the essay contest, but could you re-read these 27 and mark them using this 28 block rubric? oh teacher, you’re talking? i’m just gonna wrestle with my friend until you’re finished. hey tara, you have open class next week, you should send us your lessons by friday. oh teacher, you gave us an assignment? i think i will rip up this worksheet you made and nap. it’s lunchtime, here are some fully intact sea creatures covered in neon orange sauce. enjoy!

June 7
As a gift to myself for having to be at work this morning, I began my 1st period class with this tongue twister: ‘I saw Susie sitting in a shoe shine shop. Where she sits she shines, and where she shines she sits.’
35 Korean students pronouncing ‘sits’ as ‘shits’ in unison really started my day off right.

July 13
A boy was just grabbing his crotch and dramatically rolling around on the floor. Another boy went up to him and said, ‘Shit, man! Shutup!’ Now, 4 boys are entangled in some sort of wrestling match. I’m just going to sit here and not do anything.

July 17
Successful teacher overnighter:
-Had to dance with my vice principal while everyone shouted, ‘Britney Spears!’
-The principal was walking around with a lit cigarette in his ear.
-The music teacher kept calling me a ‘handsome plower (flower)’ and then promptly passed out on the table.
-The teachers went swimming in a wading pool in their clothes while the principal sat on the edge and splashed everyone with water.

August 5
waiting for the instant creamer in my instant coffee to settle. looking around at my my dirty floor deciding which dirty article of clothing to wear to work today. so hungover. cried in the shower this morning. i deserve this.

September 1
Other teacher: ‘Tara! Hello! Did you go abroad?’
Me: ‘Yeah!’
Other teacher: ‘Where? Thailand?’
Me: ‘No, I went to Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong.’
Other teacher: ‘Okay, well, welcome back… to hell.’

September 5
EFL highlight of the day: ‘If I had $5,000, I would go to Busan. I would go there by submarine. I would stay at the beach and sleep in my girlfriend. I would play volleyball.’

September 8
Tripped over a metal grate while walking to my classroom and hardcore bailed (like, seriously) on the concrete. Luckily, there were several students playing soccer who were fortunate enough to witness my tragic fall.

September 28
Sometimes for fun I use Google to translate the messages sent out to all the teachers on Cool Messenger. This is how today’s most recent message begins:
‘Sir ~!
Nash syeommunje She’s been keeping busy?
Would you gyesil Peach wants to buy a joint??
Peach orchards convinces a friend’s house.
Every year it’s okay to eat tasty.
If you’re two minutes saemdeuljungedo you enjoy please contact us.’

September 30
Student 1: ‘McDonald! One Big Mac set!’
Student 2: *kicks other boy in the knee* ‘Hey! My wife!’

October 3
Walking from the subway station around 11:30 tonight, slightly drunk and wearing a dirty sweatshirt, I was chased for a block by a random, very tall 12th grade boy from my school (meaning I’ve never had him in a class), only to have this conversation:
‘Teacher!’ *Took out my headphones*
‘Shinmok High School student!’ *followed by something in Korean*
‘Oh, ok…’
‘Hi, Teacher!’
‘Bye, Teacher!’

October 6
Students were waiting for the light to change at a crosswalk –> I walked up and just started crossing the street –> Students followed me, as I am the ‘responsible adult’ –> Everyone almost got hit by several cars.

October 11
I just saw “Tara’s hair = godness” written on one of the desks in my classroom. Godness is not a word and there were several penises drawn below it, but still.

October 27
One of my students looks like a baby bird… so that made me happy today. I accidentally gave him a good score on his speaking test because his hair was very fluffy.

November 11
Sometimes when I walk down the hall students will just yell out McDonald’s orders to me. Today, someone asked for a hamburger, then another boy yelled ‘SEX!!!!!’ Then I was cornered by a group of boys –
‘Teacher! Big eyes – good job!’
‘Teacher! Natural yellow hair?’ : ‘Yes, but it’s not yellow.’ : ‘Gold! Good job!’

November 17
On my walk to work this morning, I watched as a girl got out of her mom’s car and accidentally slammed the car door into one of my students who was riding past on his bike. He fell against the sidewalk railing and his headphones went flying off. It really cheered me up.

November 18
Some student locked my classroom door FROM THE OUTSIDE during my 5th period class, trapping us all inside. A boy having to climb through the top window to get us out. Then a kid ran in with a red paint stain on the crotch of his slacks, looked something up on his phone, and yelled ‘CASTRATION!’

November 22
Sitting with a bunch of 17 year old boys in a classroom that smells like onions and cigarettes. I don’t understand how this became what I do all day.

November 25
Teacher, you have a flexible tongue : What? : Yes, you should have a boyfriend. Do you have a boyfriend? : No : I want your number : No : But I am your husband!

November 28
This week’s game in my class has caused several physical fights to break out today, including lots of slapping, punching, girls wrestling in puffy coats at the back of the room, etc.

November 30
A boy was just repeatedly kicking his friend in the back; he looked up and saw me staring at him, did a full 90 degree bow to me, and then continued to kick his friend. Clearly, they are terrified of me.

December 6
My plans for a normal dinner with 2 English co-teachers turned into an evening involving several bottles of soju with several subject homeroom teachers, followed by several hours of norebang.

December 30
During a group writing activity, my students created a story about a man who was really a woman who liked other women, but later turned into a woman who liked men.
Girl: ‘Teacher, woman likes woman. What is it called?’
Me: ‘Umm… a lesbian.’
Girl: ‘Ah! Yes, lesbian.’
All students: ‘lezzzz-bian! lezzzz-bian!’
Me: ‘Ok. That’s enough. Don’t tell people you learned this in my class.’ 

Part 3 [2012]

February 1
Some boys just came to my desk and asked me to be the adviser for a club they are creating. I told them I was too busy, as they looked at my computer screen and saw that I was watching videos of people falling on YouTube.

March 6
I was just cornered by a group of boys I taught last year –
Marry me!
I want your number! Please?
I love you? No? Why?
I can speak English!
사랑해요! Bye!

March 7
In the middle of my last class a boy yelled out ‘I love Russia!’ however, ‘Russia’ was pronounced as ‘Lucia’ so it took me awhile to figure out what he was saying. Later, he started hitting his friend and screamed ‘Oh my god! Jesus crime!’

March 8
While rearranging my classroom, I discovered a lovely collection of English words/sentences scrawled all over the desks, including:
she’s coming!
what the fuck…
be my baby ~ ♥

March 19
In the middle of my (awful) 1st period class today, my co-teacher turned to me and said loudly, ‘I hate this class,’ right in front of the students.

April 10
Students mispronounce ‘tidy’ and it sounds like ‘titty.’

April 17
‘Teacher! MOUSE!’
…and then a tug-of-war ensued in the hallway, boys pulling on my right arm, toward the half-dead mouse, and girls pulling the other arm away.
Boys: ‘Very cute! Look!’
Girls: ‘Dead! Teacher, don’t look!’

May 4
Longing for appropriate temperature regulation, the assumption that it is most effective to walk, preferably in a straight line, on the right side of the sidewalk, proper sentence formation, etc.

May 9
Girl: ‘Teacher, please turn on the refrigerator!’
Boy: ‘No, Stupid! Air container!’

May 21

Tara McDonald is a washingtonian. temporary teacher. sometimes writer. traveler. thinker. distracter. lover of good humor, delicious beer, ugly canines, the world.


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